Building strong ties between youth and law enforcement is the hope for the third annual Park with the Police event June 10 at Bryan’s Imagination Station.
“The idea behind the event really is to build stronger relationships with the community and the children of the community as well,” said Williams County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Maynard.
“It’s just to bring more unity for the community so that we can really achieve everything possible to keep our community safe and to be able to instill that trust in one another,” he added.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 525 Newdale Drive in Bryan. It will feature bicycle safety tips, an obstacle course, a bicycle raffle, a K-9 demonstration, games of C.O.P. on a basketball court with officers, Natures Nursery Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, prizes, a dunk tank and a bouncy house and inflatable obstacle course.
There will also be gun safety tips and target shooting with BB guns, along with demonstrations by hunting dogs Bonzie and Briggz, two Labrador retrievers.
While the target audience is those aged 2-10 as far as prizes go, Maynard said all are welcome to attend the event.
“The entire community is encouraged to come out and participate, meet your local law enforcement agencies,” Maynard said.
There will be law enforcement officers from Williams County Sheriff’s Office, police departments of Bryan, Stryker, Edgerton, Edon, Montpelier, Pioneer and West Unity, as well as from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
While this is the third year of the event, Maynard said it’s already paying dividends.
“It’s an amazing thing, just in the first two years, we see kids recognize the law enforcement that was out at these events and the relationships that have been built are just instrumental in us being able to communicate effectively with one another,” Maynard said.
He added these types of events are just as positive for the law enforcement officers involved as it is for the youth.
“This is as beneficial to law enforcement as it is for the kids in the community,” Maynard said. “Because to have this positive interaction, it’s almost rejuvenating in our profession.”
He added law enforcement typically only interact with the public when something is going wrong with them, and that can weigh on officers after a time.
“You can really let this job affect you in many ways, and that’s why mental health in law enforcement is such a difficult thing,” Maynard said.
“There’s officers all over the country that struggle with mental health, and this is something that can really be therapeutic, by showing you how much the community cares and how excited they are to be there with you.”
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